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Economic Overview

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

With a strategic location that makes the country a natural gateway into the landlocked region of Central Africa (including Chad, Central African Republic and northern Congo), Cameroon is undoubtedly an influential country in the economic and monetary community of the region. After the Covid-19 pandemic-lead recession in 2020, GDP growth rebounded, supported by the non-oil sector recovery and the general global economic recovery and reached 3.8% in 2022 (IMF). Economic growth is expected to accelerate to 4.6% in 2023 and 4.7% in 2024, but spillovers from Russia’s war in Ukraine present major risks (IMF). This performance will be driven by public investments in projects such as the hydroelectric dam of Lom-Pangar and Nachtigal and the port of Kribi.

After slowing down in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and security tensions in the region, Cameroon’s economy rebounded in 2021 and continued to recover in 2022. Restrictive budget policy prior to the pandemic, a modest recovery plan, emergency fund from the IMF and debt payment suspension contributed to the stability of public finances. Aiming to avoid premature fiscal tightening, the authorities continued to gradually reduce the budget deficit, from -2.4% GDP in 2021 to -2% GDP in 2022 (IMF). It is expected to decrease below 1% GDP in 2023 (IMF). Public debt increased to an estimated 46.8% GDP in 2022, but it is expected to reduce to 43.7% GDP in 2023 and 40.5% GDP in 2024 (IMF). According to the IMF’s updated figures, inflation peaked to 6% in 2022 (from 2.3% in 2021), and should remain at that level in 2023. This surge in prices is driven by imported inflation linked to food (fertilisers, cereals, livestock inputs) and refined hydrocarbons costs, as well as domestic supply pressures (Coface, IMF). According to Coface, inflation is expected to return within reach of the 3% convergence target in the monetary zone by 2024. In the context of the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility and Extended Fund Facility arrangements, Cameroonese authorities are focused on strengthening budgetary discipline, addressing fiscal risks from state-owned enterprises, and accelerating the implementation of structural reforms (IMF). The government announced a reduction in fuel subsidies, in an effort to create fiscal space for productive investment and social spending. Challenges include spillovers from Russia’s war in Ukraine, including inflationary pressures, supply chain disruptions, food security, and a tightening of global financial conditions (IMF).

Despite the rather satisfying economic performances of the country, poverty affects nearly 40% of the population, around 8 million people. The crisis Covid-19 increased the extreme poverty rate, which represents around a quarter of the population (World Bank). Because the poverty reduction rate is lagging behind the population growth rate, the overall number of poor in Cameroon increased, and poverty is increasingly concentrated in the North and Far North (World Bank). The latter regions are also hit by the attacks of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram and a secessionist insurgency in the Anglophone regions. More than 1 million Cameroonians have been internally displaced since December 2017, and the country also hosts more than 470,000 refugees, mainly from the Central African Republic and Nigeria (World Bank, UNHCR). In 2021, the unemployment rate in the country stood at 3.9% (World Bank, ILO estimate).

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 44.3249.2652.9856.7960.23
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 3.84.04.24.44.5
GDP per Capita (USD) 1,5881,7221,8071,8911,958
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 45.541.939.637.235.7
Inflation Rate (%) n/a7.24.83.02.3
Current Account (billions USD) -0.80-1.27-1.28-1.26-1.50
Current Account (in % of GDP) -1.8-2.6-2.4-2.2-2.5

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , October 2021

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by La Coface.

 

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Main Sectors of Industry

Cameroon is open to international trade. It is a member of the Commonwealth, the CEMAC (Central African Economic and Monetary Community), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and has signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The ratio of trade to GDP is around 37% (World Bank, 2021).

Its main export commodities are fuel (oil, gas), minerals (coal, aluminium), wood, cocoa, cotton, and rubber. Cameroon mainly imports mineral fuels and oil, food (rice, wheat, fish, etc.), medicines, and manufactured products (vehicles, machinery, electrical and electronic equipment). Cameroon’s main export partners are China, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Spain and India. Its main import suppliers are China, France, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Thailand, the United States and Togo. Cameroon signed a free trade agreement with the European Union in August 2016. For some years now, Eastern Asian countries (especially China, Japan, India, and Thailand) have been reinforcing their trade ties with Cameroon.

Cameroon's trade balance is structurally negative. According to WTO data, in 2021 Cameroon recorded a trade deficit of USD 2 billion. The same source reported that the country imported USD 6.1 billion worth of goods against USD 4.1 billion for exports. Service exports generated 1.55 billion USD while service imports amounted to 2.24 billion USD in 2020 (WTO, latest available data). In 2021 imports of goods and services increased by 13.8% compared to 2020, much faster than exports (3.4%) (World Bank).

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 42.6 15.5 41.9
Value Added (in % of GDP) 17.0 25.5 50.4
Value Added (Annual % Change) 4.2 0.3 5.1

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
CFA Franc BEAC (XAF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 593.01582.09555.72585.90575.59

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

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Foreign Trade

Cameroon is open to international trade. It is a member of the Commonwealth, the CEMAC (Central African Economic and Monetary Community), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and has signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The ratio of trade to GDP is around 37% (World Bank, 2021).

Its main export commodities are fuel (oil, gas), minerals (coal, aluminium), wood, cocoa, cotton, and rubber. Cameroon mainly imports mineral fuels and oil, food (rice, wheat, fish, etc.), medicines, and manufactured products (vehicles, machinery, electrical and electronic equipment). Cameroon’s main export partners are China, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Spain and India. Its main import suppliers are China, France, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Thailand, the United States and Togo. Cameroon signed a free trade agreement with the European Union in August 2016. For some years now, Eastern Asian countries (especially China, Japan, India, and Thailand) have been reinforcing their trade ties with Cameroon.

Cameroon's trade balance is structurally negative. According to WTO data, in 2021 Cameroon recorded a trade deficit of USD 2 billion. The same source reported that the country imported USD 6.1 billion worth of goods against USD 4.1 billion for exports. Service exports generated 1.55 billion USD while service imports amounted to 2.24 billion USD in 2020 (WTO, latest available data). In 2021 imports of goods and services increased by 13.8% compared to 2020, much faster than exports (3.4%) (World Bank).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 5,6566,5835,5216,9817,800
Exports of Goods (million USD) 3,8034,0843,1324,3175,900
Imports of Services (million USD) 2,7052,8232,1172,4972,701
Exports of Services (million USD) 2,1172,2051,7091,4431,836

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 40.643.433.737.139.9
Trade Balance (million USD) -533-737-679-524n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,121-1,355-1,088-1,579n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 8.511.4-17.113.8-3.7
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2.111.2-14.43.43.0
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 21.923.518.520.420.5
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 18.719.915.216.719.4

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 12.25.57.28.89.2
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 11.75.45.84.94.5

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Cameroon is open to a large extent to international trade. It is a member of the Commonwealth as well as that of the Franc Zone. In order to facilitate trade relations, these countries have signed treaties and agreements to simplify trade. In this way Cameroon has signed agreement with the European Union.

It should also be noted that Cameroon also has trade agreements with countries such as Tunisia, Nigeria and China.

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2021
China 25.9%
Netherlands 12.4%
India 9.7%
Italy 7.2%
Spain 6.1%
See More Countries 38.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2021
China 17.0%
France 9.0%
India 7.2%
Belgium 3.8%
Türkiye 3.5%
See More Countries 59.5%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Paul BIYA (since 6 November 1982)
Prime Minister: Joseph Dion NGUTE (since 4 January 2019)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: October 2025
Senate: 2023
National Assembly: to be determined
Main Political Parties
Cameroon has a multi-party system, yet more than two-thirds of parliamentary seats are delegated to the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) party. The most notable political forces include:
- Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM): right-wing
- Social Democratic Front (SDF): centre-left, main opposition party, promotes social democracy
- National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP): anti-communist
- Cameroon Democratic Union (UDC)
- Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC): left-wing

Other minor parties exist such as:

-Cameroonian Party of Democrats

-Alliance for Democracy and Development

-Movement for the Defense of the Republic (MDR)

-Republican Party of Cameroon

-African People's Union (UPA)

-Progressive Movement (MP)

-Believe in Cameroon

-Cameroon Renaissance Movement

-Cameroon People's Party (CPP)

-Movement for the Liberation and Development of Cameroon (MLDC)

Executive Power
The President is the chief of the state and holds the executive powers. The President is also the head of the armed forces. He is elected by popular vote for a seven-year term . He appoints the Prime Minister (who is the head of the government) and the Cabinet. The President has the power to dissolve the National Assembly and declare by decree a state of emergency which shall confer upon him special powers.
Legislative Power
The legislature is bicameral. The Parliament consists of the National Assembly and the Senate. The 180 members of the Parliament are directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve five-year terms. Among the 100 members of the Senate, 70 are indirectly elected by regional councils and 30 are appointed by the president; and they serve five-year terms. The main responsibility of the National Assembly is to pass laws, but rarely has it changed any laws or blocked the passing of legislation. The political rights of the people of Cameroon are very much limited.
 

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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the Cameroonian government, please consult the section dedicated to Cameroon in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.

Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

 

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